Second protester shot and killed this week in Iraq’s Nasiriyah: AFP

An Iraqi man was shot dead on Thursday during a rally against provincial authorities in the southern protest hotspot of Nasiriyah, medics there told AFP.

Protesters have defied a second wave of coronavirus infections and renewed lockdown measures to keep up a long-running anti-government movement in the capital of Dhi Qar province.

On Thursday, they tried to gather outside the main governorate building in Nasiriyah to demand the dismissal of governor Nazem al-Waeli over a deterioration in public services.

They threw stones at security forces, who fired shots in the air to try to disperse the crowds, an AFP correspondent on the scene said.

A 25-year-old protester was fatally shot, medics said, while 26 protesters and 10 security forces were wounded.

The new clashes came just three days after similar rallies outside the governorate that left a young teenager dead.

Decades of war, government graft and a dearth of investment have left Iraq’s water, electricity and other public works in a pitiful state.

Many households have only a few hours of mains electricity per day and complain of polluted tap water. The resulting anger has sparked huge protests in the past.

In late 2019, public frustration over poor services, unemployment and corruption morphed into an unprecedented anti-government movement across southern Iraq as well as the capital Baghdad.

Nearly 600 people have been killed in protest-related violence since then, including in mass violence at demonstrations but also in targeted assassinations.

The demonstrations had almost entirely died down over the last year but have been bubbling up again in Nasiriyah.

The renewed violence comes less than two weeks before Pope Francis is set to visit Dhi Qar province as part of the first-ever papal trip to Iraq.

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